Read the inspiring letter a fan sent actor Jack Falahee for playing a gay character on TV.

"How to Get Away With Murder" is just as provocative and sinful as its name suggests.

The TV series on ABC — often dubbed "HTGAWM" by fans — follows powerhouse lawyer Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her crew of cutthroat Philadelphia law students. Its story lines are laced with twists, turns, and a good amount of fake blood.

The cast of "How to Get Away With Murder." Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards.


Hidden in the scandalous depths of each episode, however, is an often overlooked reality: "HTGAWM" is a significant show.  

It boasts a diverse cast led by the award-winning Davis, who's one of few women of color leading a prime-time series.

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," Davis said on stage last year at the Emmys, quoting Harriet Tubman while accepting her award for best actress in a drama series.

She's the first black woman ever to win that category.

Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images.

But the show's diversity extends far beyond Davis. And the power of that inclusiveness surfaced in a recent fan letter to actor Jack Falahee.

The show's ensemble features two gay characters, Connor — played by Falahee — and Oliver — played by Conrad Ricamora.

In an Instagram post from Oct. 13, 2016, Falahee shared a "really lovely letter" sent to him from a fan around National Coming Out Day, earlier in the week.

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of seeing how many of my LGBTQ friends and fans were celebrating on Coming Out Day. Some folks told the story of how they came out. Some stories were sad, some were joyous. All of their stories were courageous and beautiful. A fan, who will remain anonymous to protect their identity, sent me a really lovely letter that included this passage about how seeing Connor and Oliver on screen has helped them navigate their coming out. It really resonated with me. I wanted to take this moment to thank that person publicly, but also to thank all of you. Knowing that Connor and Oliver have, in a small way, helped some of you find a voice is truly humbling to hear. And it makes me really happy. So, thank you. If you're looking for some more info on navigating your own coming out, I encourage you to check out "Coming Out As You" at thetrevorproject.org

A photo posted by Jack Falahee (@jackfalahee) on

A portion of the letter (emphasis added):

"I wanted to thank you for the way you are representing a openly gay character in such a huge show. Connor became a role model to me since he never sees his sexual orientation as a flaw and instead is open and proud of it. I think Connor's relationship to Oliver shows a lot of people around the globe that a same-sex relationship can be as loving and complicated — there is no difference. This gave me so much hope and strength because I did no longer feel there is anything wrong with me. After watching Connor and Oliver developing as a couple I gained confidence and felt a lot better about myself. I even started to tell my family and friends that I am gay."

For Falahee, the letter truly tugged at the heartstrings.

"Knowing that Connor and Oliver have, in a small way, helped some of you find a voice is truly humbling to hear," he wrote in the caption. "And it makes me really happy. So, thank you."

Conrad Ricamora (left) and Jack Falahee. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Point Foundation.

"Although it still was a scary thing to do, I don't think I ever would have been brave enough to [come out as gay] if it was not for you and the way you play Connor," Falahee's fan wrote. "So, although I unfortunately do not know you personally, I feel like I owe you a lot."

It's critical that we see some version of ourselves on our TV screens because it helps empower us to be who we are.

When South Asian actor Aziz Ansari blasted through barriers to create his own hit TV series, "Master of None," it mattered. When Sam Esmail, creator of "Mr. Robot," thanked his family on stage at the Golden Globes by simply saying "shukran" ("thank you" in Arabic), it mattered.

And when a young Leslie Jones discovered Whoopi Goldberg, it mattered.

"The day I saw Whoopi Goldberg on television, I cried so hard," Jones said on "The View" in July 2016. "Because I kept looking at my daddy going, 'Oh my god! There's somebody on TV who looks like me! She looks like me! Daddy! I can be on TV. I can be on TV. '"

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

"HTGAWM" fans probably aren't learning how, exactly, they can get away with murder. But they are learning how to be themselves.

And I think we can all agree that's a much better takeaway.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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